Can’t Tell Me Nothing (The Official Mixtape Mixed by Plain Pat)
anye’s doin’ drops, we gotta push the album up.”
That’s what West claims folks at his label have been saying, on his Can’t Tell Me Nothing mixtape. Yeah, the world knows that Graduation is coming, but that shouldn’t make this mixtape, which is more than the usual advance promotional bullshit, obsolete. Even with a few duds, this might be the album of the year.
Said duds include the title track, the first “official” single from Graduation, an oddly dirge-like Kanye boast track co-produced by longtime T.I. collaborator DJ Toomp. This is supposed to build excitement for ‘Ye’s third album? Don’t think so. GLC’s “I Ain’t Even on Yet” falls flat as well (you’re not part of UGK, so quit tryin’)—but fortunately, there’s plenty more on this disc to make you care.
First of all, there’s a trio of tracks from Common’s new Finding Forever, all of which positively slam: “Southside” reps the Chi something lovely, the old-school classic-in-the-making “The Game” features scratches from DJ Premier and deserves ‘em, and single “The People” is a gorgeously-produced (one guess) track with some very warm, very late-‘70s jazz-fusion keybs. After “The Game,” Kanye amusingly riffs about one of his connections with Primo: a shared love of pornography.
There’s new cuts and snippets from the likes of Talib Kweli (the fine, soul-drenched “In the Mood”—again, guess who produced?), Consequence, Sa-Ra, and Really Doe (the Jennifer Hudson-sampling “Magnetic Power,” which soars thanks to its Dreamgirls sample—and how hot could an original ‘Ye production for J-Hud be?). There’s Kanye’s “remixes” of three of the year’s biggest hood hits, meaning basically his freestyling over the tracks. Fortunately, they’re Ne-Yo’s “Because of You,” T-Pain’s “Buy You a Drank,” and most of all Rich Boy’s “Throw Some D’s,” which West completely recontextualizes, kinda brilliantly and definitely hilariously.
Above all, however, are a couple of exclusives—what would a mixtape be without ‘em? “C.O.L.O.U.R.S.” is by Bentley featuring Pimp C and Lil’ Wayne, and besides being a sumptuously understated track built around a harpsichord riff (really), it’s got another number one stunna of a verse from Weezy. (“She feels me come in like new teeth”!) Even better—in fact, better than most things you’re likely to hear this year—is a joint by CRS, a supergroup made up of Kanye, Lupe Fiasco, and Pharrell. “Us Placers” features the trio of heavy-hitters doing their thing over a looped sample from Thom Yorke’s “The Eraser,” and shit is deep, yo. Pharrell’s verse in particular might be the best he’s ever dropped, taking in the Virginia Tech shootings and referencing Pfizer and Glaxo SmithKline to boot (even Jay-Z ain’t doin’ that).
Can’t Tell Me Nothing is one mixtape that should be legendary on its own, rather than piggybacking off its “parent” album. It’s as diverse as anything I’ve heard this year, both as intelligent and as stoopid as it wants to be (cf. “Us Placers” vs. “Throw Some D’s (Remix)”), and gloriously so. There’s no one in the game quite like Kanye right now, and both his production and his ideas themselves (if not always his rapping—though he’s definitely good for a clever couplet here and there) are helping elevate the game. At a minimum, he’s hip-hop’s behind-the-board equivalent of Lil’ Wayne. Represent, y’all.